ARCHIVES 1997-2007  --- ARCHIVES 2007 +


Australian Diary finds UK Prime Minister David Cameron's condemnation of Edward Snowden to be just a little bit hypocritical.

1)  Murdoch Journalists have been spying on Royals and phone hacking citizens.
2)  The UK Government prosecuted Murdoch Journalists with great vigour.
Snowden and Wikileaks have revealed that the UK government has been spying on UK citizens. 
4)  The UK government sanctimoniously condemns Snowden and Wikileaks.

But then, I suppose "hypocrite" is part of the job description in politics.


The people of Indo China (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam) are financially disadvantaged by Australian standards.  Per capita GDP (PCGDP) in Cambodia is $2,400 which is about $50/week.  But that does not take account of the spread of income, where the very few have a huge proportion of income.   For comparison, PCGDP in Australia is $43,000 and in US is $50,700.  Just ask your local Wal Mart or Coles or Coffee Waitress if they make much more than $500 p/w ($25,000p/a)

If you walk into a Khmer restaurant you can buy a sizeable meal with meat or fish for less than 50 cents.  Beer costs 50c - $1 per can, retail.  Taxis are unknown, but you can ride 2km on the back of a motorbike for $1.00, or in a "Tuk-tuk" for one km.  (A Tuk-tuk is a motorcycle with covered cabin trailer).

Sian Reap (translates approximately as "where the Khmer people killed a lot of Thai soldiers in a magnificent victory to retake our former capital) has the temples which featured in Angelina Jolie's "Tomb Raider" film.  This was the ancient capital, before the Thais (Siamese) invaded.

I stayed with friends at Sihanoukville for over a week.   This was one of the nicest places that I stayed in the region.  Lovely beaches.  Friendly people.  And quite good food, even if nearly all the dishes contain meat.  If you look around, it is even possible to find the occasional expatriate restaurant that serves a Cappuccino and Croissant.

Phnom Penh is the capital.  It has about 1.5 million population and contains the Royal Palace.

Hawkers are everywhere.  As soon as one approached me, I learned to say "Not want bike, Not want Tuk-tuk, not want girl, not want boy, not want drugs".

Corruption is rife.  According to those who would know, most legal problems can be solved most cheaply by the appropriate bribe.  In a way I suppose this is not inferior to our own system.  If you do wrong, it will cost you, and the cost will be proportional to the crime.  So do not do anything wrong, unless you have learned how to negotiate a bribe.  Unfortunately both methods have positive feedback.  As people become more law abiding, they get prosecuted for increasingly trivial offences.

ftth in Phnom Penh
In Australia there is talk of providing broadband internet by building a Fibre To The Home (FTTH) network using overhead cables.  That is what is done in Cambodia and Vietnam.  It is not pretty.  This photograph was taken in Phnom Penh.

I was advised that an individual calls up one of the many phone companies, asks for a connection, and the workers for that phone company open a new connection in the exchange, and run it to the premises, attaching it to whatever poles are handy.  That tangle of black cables is the fibre cable.

The bus trip from Phnom Penh to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City,
314km=200miles) cost $US10.00 and took about 5 hours.   

Saigon is BIG with 6 million people.  Food and accommodation are about the same as Cambodia.  A hotel room with shower and TV, wifi etc is between $16-$25 in both cities.

Coming home I stopped in Malaysia for four days.  The airport was 70 KM from KL (
All the names in Kuala Lumpur are abbreviated to KL??), and a taxi driver at the airport estimated it would cost about $60 Australian (180 R) to my hotel   Being of a Scottish disposition, I looked around and found a very fast train to KL Sentral (That's the way they spell it!) for 35 R (about $12).  From there a taxi to my hotel cost $12.

On arrival at the "Grid 9 Hotel" the hotel concierge refused to allow me to see the room before paying the $38 per night charge.  It was around 10.30pm, so I suppose he expected that I would accept his ultimatum.  I regretted my obstinate response the second I made it.

Fortunately there was another hotel about 50 meters uphill, and not only were they happy to show me the room, but the room was about $30 per night.  As soon as possible I moved to a hotel right next to the KL Sentral monorail station.

Public transport in KL is very cheap.  The train trip from KLS to the twin towers (about 4 km) cost about 50 cents.